Array

Array

Alcorn takes tree-climbing skills to Texas

There’s an unconscious injured person trapped in a tree. You are the first responder and have only six minutes to get someone to call 911, then climb the tree and get the person to the ground. Go! It’s called an aerial rescue and it’s one of the events that an Olds woman will be competing in soon to try and win an international tree-climbing competition in Texas.

There’s an unconscious injured person trapped in a tree. You are the first responder and have only six minutes to get someone to call 911, then climb the tree and get the person to the ground. Go!

It’s called an aerial rescue and it’s one of the events that an Olds woman will be competing in soon to try and win an international tree-climbing competition in Texas.

Kali Alcorn, a certified arborist, qualified tree risk assessor and landscape technician, admits she is really nervous going up against other competitors from around the world.

It’s Alcorn’s first time in the tree-climbing competition. She qualified by winning the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Prairie Chapter competition in Winnipeg last September.

Over 60 professional tree climbers from 18 countries will compete in San Antonio on April 2 and 3 in the event organized by the ISA. This is the event’s 40th year.

Competition rules follow industry safety standards. On the first day competitors undertake five different events involving work-related tasks. The next day the men and women with the highest scores move on to the Masters’ Challenge.

Alcorn, 29, has been in B.C. for a few months during a slow work season, staying with friends and training intensely. A lot of that involves staying fit by doing hot yoga and running, and working on her upper body strength, which is needed in the job.

Now that she has the basics and fitness down, she is working on her confidence.

Alcorn moved from Ontario in 2009 to Olds, where she took the bachelor of applied science, majoring in landscape management at Olds College. She got interested in tree climbing when she started working for a tree company. (Yes she hears it all the time her last name should have been Acorn.)

The first time she was ever in a climbing situation, one of her colleagues gave her a little demonstration.

“He said ‘OK we’re up here now, swing from this branch to that branch,’ and I just did it. I just went for it. He said ‘You’re a natural and you’re gonna rock at this if you pursue it.’” And she did.

It seems heights aren’t a problem for Alcorn. She’s done zip-lining, bungee jumping, sky diving and mountain climbing.

“I’ve always been excited about being in ropes. Heights don’t really scare me. And power tools too! Hey, who thought there’s such jobs as climbing and you get to use chain saws at the same time!

“There’s a difference between no fear and knowing fear, because it is dangerous. It’s one of the most dangerous occupations out there … safety is very important,” she said.

The competition height they go to is 50 to 60 feet. She’s climbed well over 100 feet on West Coast trees and in tropical trees in Panama. In Alberta she usually gets up 60 to 70 feet when working on a tree.

In Alberta and the rest of the Prairies, people want to preserve their trees because they’re precious, Alcron has found. Arborists deal with tree problems such as ones that might fall on a house or in need of pruning. These “urban foresters” can perform surgeon-like mitigating measures. Sometimes a tree can be saved, sometimes not.

Alcorn finds the work fascinating because not only does she need to be an “industrial athlete,” but she is also a mathematician, physicist and sailor (for all the rope knots), she said. “It’s very complicated … It’s a challenge in every way. … And you’re outside. It’s just awesome.”

It has traditionally been a man’s industry but there are more women getting involved in aboriculture, Alcorn said.

In Texas, besides the aerial rescue, one of the other events she will be doing is a speed climb to the top of the tree and down. “You have to monkey up the tree as fast as you can and ring a bell.”

The aerial rescue involves a dummy in the tree. The work climb event has Alcorn installed in the top of the tree canopy, and then a bell will ring and off she goes in a timed event where she will make her way down several stations until finally zipping down and landing on a target.

“It’s really fun.”

This year’s ISA Prairie Chapter competition is at Olds College, on June 18 and 19.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Nice Horse, a band with Central Alberta connections, won three times at the 2021 Alberta Country Music Awards. (contributed photo by Heather Pollock).
Nice Horse wins three times at 2021 Alberta Country Music Awards

Calgary-based band has some central Alberta connections

(BLACK PRESS file image)
AHS warns parents to keep button batteries away from small children

Some kids swallowed the small cells and were hospitalized

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

A sign board in Toronto shows the closing number for the TSX on Thursday October 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
North American stock markets quieter after strong start to March as all eyes on bonds

North American stock markets quieter after strong start to March as all eyes on bonds

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
After worst year on record, Canadian economy enters 2021 with double digit growth

After worst year on record, Canadian economy enters 2021 with double digit growth

Good Earth Cafes unveils strategy to move in when Starbucks closes Canadian shops

Good Earth Cafes unveils strategy to move in when Starbucks closes Canadian shops

‘Door is open:’ Ottawa ready to help pork producers affected by Olymel shutdown

‘Door is open:’ Ottawa ready to help pork producers affected by Olymel shutdown

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson responds to a question in the House of Commons on Nov. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada can’t ‘power past coal’ and keep exporting it, environment group says

Canada can’t ‘power past coal’ and keep exporting it, environment group says

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andre Penner
Split over AstraZeneca vaccine sparks questions on who will get it as variants spread

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are… Continue reading

Banana bread (file photo)
Calgary not-for-profit going bananas trying to off-load pallets of fruit

CALGARY — It’s been bananas at a Calgary not-for-profit as it tries… Continue reading

Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Edmonton chiropractor admits to sexually assaulting six female patients in 1980s

EDMONTON — A chiropractor has admitted to sexually touching six of his… Continue reading

Most Read